Making it Count on the International Day of the Girl

Thursday 19 October 2017

 October 11th, 2017 marks the sixth annual observation of the International Day of the Girl Child, a day that aims to shed light on the needs and challenges girls face, as well as raising awareness of their rights as children and promoting their empowerment.

Save the Children believes that world’s future lies in the hands of the 1.1 billion girls who are in need of protection from violence and discrimination, and have equal access to education, legal rights, and medical care. As part of our Speak Up campaign, which is conducting activities to address sexual harassment of girls, Save the Children Egypt organized several events to commemorate this special day.  Celebrations began in the Save the Children office, where staff members participated in the Speak Up campaign by writing empowering messages to young girls they know, encouraging them to become more active participants in Egyptian society.

Speak Up also engaged girls, boys and communities to celebrate this important day.  “The campaign’s main objective is to give girls the strength and confidence to speak out against discrimination and sexual harassment,” said Program Officer Hager ElSayed. “We approached kids from the ages of 12 to 18 in Ard el Lewa, Giza, and the results are better than we anticipated.”  “Nearly every aspect of Speak Up’s initiatives were their ideas, from the slogans used to the facilitation of the event itself. In terms of personal development, it’s a truly remarkable transformation these young boys and girls have gone through by becoming a part of this program.”

The main event took place at the Ard el Lewa Youth Center in Giza, where we helped young volunteers organize creative workshops for other children to learn about gender roles, personal space, and dealing with sexual harassment.  Mariam, 12, was very eager to learn these skills. “My sister and I go to an all-girls school not very far from another all-boys school,” she said. “Although we finish classes at the same time, we’re not allowed to leave until all the boys have left their school, so as not to cause problems. I didn’t feel safe knowing what these boys could say or do to me if I bumped into them, but after today’s sessions I have a lot more confidence.”  In a separate area, the children’s mothers were also invited to attend a seminar lead by one of Save the Children’s psychologists. The seminar discussed issues related to gender inequalities, challenging the perceptions many people have over the perceived roles and acceptable behaviors of young girls.

“Girl’s rights are inseparable from their mother’s understanding of them,” continued Hager. “They wanted to be coached on how to best support their daughters and were so happy with the results of the seminar that they asked us to organize another one.”

Steadfast on their mission to help improve the lives of young girls in Egypt, the Speak Up campaign and its volunteers will continue to facilitate community programs and gender-themed workshops, and will be organizing similar events twice a month until the end of the year.